We finished The Lake Effect in the fall of 2010 and have been playing festivals since then. Tara and I have been lucky enough to attend some of those fests – we’ve been to London for Raindance and Phoenix for, well, Phoenix. We’ve had amazing screenings with packed houses, but seldom have we known people in the audience. It’s a terrific feeling to bring the movie to strangers, people who otherwise would never have heard of it. As I’ve discovered over the past two weeks, it’s an entirely different, wonderful and sometimes nerve-wracking, feeling to bring the movie to people you know.
|Johnny and Ross, together at last.
On May 19 we had our first, and likely only, screening in LA. The theater was packed with cast, crew, friends and family. Then last week, we held two screenings in Kalamazoo, MI and one in Saugatuck, MI, near where we shot, and not coincidentally, where I grew up. I found myself nervous for the first time in a long time screening the film. What if our fabulous editor Steve Edwards hated it on a big screen? What if Tara’s parents thought I’d dragged her to Michigan 8 months pregnant for nothing? What if my grandma didn’t get the jokes? What if my neighbor from 25 years ago said, “Oh she had such promise as a child, too bad she went into film.”? Despite my misgivings, all four screenings went WONDERFULLY! Better than I could have hoped. Below are my...
Top Ten Favorite Moments from our May Tour
-Tara Summer’s mom seeing (and liking!) the movie.
Tara S. works a lot, in fact, you can see her in a new show called THE RINGER on the CW this fall, starring opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar. But her mom still turned out for our LA screening, to see her daughter do terrific work in our little movie.
-Standing with Tara M. on the side of the theater in Kalamazoo, watching the audience watch the movie.
I’ve seen THE LAKE EFFECT hundreds of times. I don’t watch the screenings anymore. Usually I have things to do while the movie plays – set up the merchandise table, call my husband to catch up. But on the 25th & 26th, Tara and I got to stand (heels kicked off) and peek at the audience as they watched the movie. Seeing people laugh at a joke, or cry during the birth scene makes this entire experience absolutely worth it!
-Finally nailing the PR thing.
I am not a publicist. I have no background in marketing. The whole thing alternately annoys and terrifies me. And yet, we needed people to show up for our screenings. About two and a half weeks ago I was banging my head on my desk in LA, despondent that no one in Michigan knew anything about our movie, convinced that no one would come. I had been sending out press releases, contacting Chambers of Commerce, tourism bureaus, etc. and had very little response. Then in one day, all of a sudden, we were everywhere. We had pieces in all the regional papers, radio interviews, two TV appearances, plus local news. We had three packed houses and could not have asked for more.
-Watching actor Chase Maser come into his own.
We cast Chase when he was a senior at Portage Central H.S. in southwest Michigan. He plays the baby daddy. This was his first film role. Since then, he’s graduated, moved to Chicago, starred in 2 more movies and just booked the lead in another one. I’m so happy for him and glad that he’s taken up the challenge. I’m sure we have not seen the last of Chase.
|Me, Chase, and Tara, wrapping up the run.
-Receiving a great review in the Kalamazoo Gazette.
This is my hometown paper. They did a lovely spread on us in advance of the screening, which really helped get the word out. Then they asked for a screener so they could review the movie – before the screenings. It was a risk. I love our movie, but it’s not for everyone. A bad review two days before we’re trying to sell out screenings would’ve put a damper on things. Fortunately, film critic James Sanford really responded to the film. You can read his review here.
-Appearing on a Fox 17 lifestyle show out of Grand Rapids.
Tara M., Chase Maser and I appeared on “The One Seven” with local celebrity anchor Michelle DeSelms. It was short but sweet. We got the word out and Chase got to practice for his future appearances on Good Morning America. And my grandma got to call her friends to tell them to watch her granddaughter on TV. Here’s the clip.
-Reconnecting with people that I haven’t seen in ages.
For me, the Michigan screenings were really fun because, while there were tons of people who just read about it in the paper and showed up, I also saw a number of people from my childhood. I saw old neighbors and kids I played with on the beach when I was ten. When you haven’t seen someone in 15-20 years and they make the effort to come to your movie, first, that’s a really lovely person, and second, it’s a great way to catch up...
“What have you been up to?”
My only regret is that my time to chat with these folks was so limited. But I got a lot of email addresses, and facebook friends, so now I can better keep in touch.
-Getting some concentrated time in the car with Tara M. to talk about our next project.
She and I have both been crazy-busy the last month or so and our next project, THE CYNICS, has been on hold. It will have to wait another month while Tara finishes a few writing gigs, but during our long stretches driving around West Michigan, we were able to at least re-affirm our desire to make the film, and bounce ideas back and forth. We’ll keep you posted.
-Sharing the movie with people who love the Lake Michigan shore as much as I do.
We had a couple that came to the Saugatuck screening who had read about us in the paper. They both grew up spending their summers in South Haven on Lake Michigan and were thrilled to pieces to see familiar sights on screen. In fact, inspired by the movie, they were headed to Sherman’s Ice Cream after the screening.
I mean this in the best sense because I’m so glad we held these screenings. But it’s really nice to be done with them. Partly because it’s been a very busy month coordinating and doing the PR and I’ve been neglecting other projects and my family as a result. Partly because they went swimmingly and I’m going to ride this wave of satisfaction for a while. But mostly because it brings me a bit of closure on the entire experience of producing THE LAKE EFFECT. Not that there’s not more work to do, there is! And not that this is the end of the road for TLE, it’s not!! But we always wanted to share the film with our friends, family, cast, crew and supporters. It’s been on my mind since we started pre-production and gathered such a warm supportive group around us. And now we’ve done it, and they liked it. I’m relieved, gratified, a bit tired but most of all thrilled.
Thanks LA & West Michigan!!!